The Ministry of Defense is considering raising the upper limit of its existing research funding over tenfold to several billions of yen under the “Innovative Science & Technology Initiative for Security” program, which subsidizes basic research on technology that can also be used for military purposes, a source familiar with the matter revealed. The government is promoting research on technology needed to develop weaponry and defense equipment. It hopes the new subsidy program will attract universities and research institutes that engage in research that cannot be financed by the existing system.
The “Innovative Science & Technology Initiative for Security” program has received 153 applications for funding and subsidized 19 of them since it was launched in fiscal 2015. The selected projects have been awarded up to 120 million yen for three years. Starting next fiscal year, the MOD plans to set up a new subsidy scheme, apart from the existing program, to offer several billions of yen for five years. It has already requested 11 billion yen to cover both the existing and new programs in the next fiscal year’s budget. Of the amount, 10 billion yen has been earmarked in a lump sum for the new scheme.
The MOD is hoping that the new funding will attract applications from scientists who conduct basic research on radar and other defense-related technology that is extremely costly. The new scheme will allow them to reapply for subsidies if they want to advance the results of research they have conducted for five years. If selected, they will be awarded funding for five additional years.
The Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency expects “longer contracts to help incorporate more advanced technology into the development of defense equipment.”
The move, however, is raising concerns [among scientists]. “This will encourage academia-military partnerships and undermine scientists’ mission of pursuing peace,” said Michiji Konuma, an honorary professor at Keio University and a member of the Committee of Seven to Appeal for World Peace.” (Abridged)